Bold pioneers. That is who DTE’s 2020 Trailblazers are. Three women of color making waves in non-traditional roles.
For the past four years, during Black History Month, DTE Energy and its REACH (Respecting Ethnic and Cultural Heritage) employee resource group, recognized three trailblazers for their notable career path and contributions to the company and community.
Demita Beard, manager, System Operations, is being recognized for her leadership and upwardly mobile career path here as the first African American to lead the System Operations Control Room for DTE Electric. She transitioned to this new role in January.
“I’ve been very fortunate at DTE,” said Demita. “So many people supported my career and provided me with the tools I needed to make a difference. I’m honored.”
Demita humbly attributes her success to teamwork and being receptive to feedback from others.
“I have to rely on the people I work with to give me the right information to help me make the right decisions; if I didn’t have those people I wouldn’t be here,” she said.
Before Demita’s new role, she was the southeast regional manager for Underground Lines in Distribution Operations. She’s been with DTE for 10 years and started at the company as a Continuous Improvement project lead in engineering.
“It’s been an exciting journey for me,” she said, adding that she is also a mentor to other men and women at DTE. “I’m always an open book, I care about people and love to see them succeed.”
Loron Pearson, general maintenance fitter, River Rouge Service Center, was nominated for being the first African American woman to become a general pipe fitter in the Gas Pressure group.
“This is an amazing honor,” Loron said of the Trailblazer award. She initially worked on the electric side as a contractor for seven years and applied to be a maintenance fitter, making company history twice over.
“I was the first female and African American to ever work in the field in our department,” she said.
Loron’s journey started at DTE in 2005 as a summer student in electric field service operations through the Warren Service Center. From meter reading to project management, Loron always led the way.
“I maintain the gas regulation system above and below ground, which supplies the better part of southeast Michigan,” Loron said.
“It’s a dirty job working with a big group of guys. A lot of people are afraid to put themselves out there,” Loron said. “I don’t mind getting dirty because I want to learn the skills I need.”
Loron’s been in this role for five years.
“Being able to be a part of something that is vital to our community, our state, and everyday living gives me perspective and is fulfilling,” she said.
Brenda Porter, corrosion technician at DTE’s Allen Road Center, is known for paving the way – she’s been doing it for the past 31 years at the company.
She started her career as an administrative assistant but craved change.
“I wanted something to call my own,” Brenda said, so she grabbed an opportunity to move to Corrosion Control in 1994.
The move made Brenda the first African American woman to become a corrosion control technician in Gas Operations.
“I loved learning a new skill that puts me out of my comfort zone,” Brenda said.
Brenda troubleshoots and designs cathodic protection for our natural gas coated steel pipelines. She works with her team of sixteen corrosion technicians to find and repair damaged areas on the pipes.
“It is a rewarding field under the umbrella of engineering, and you don’t need an engineering degree,” Brenda said.
Brenda is thankful to be a Trailblazer and thinks she may even be the first woman in the country to hold this type of position.
“I have not seen any other black females in this field over the past in 20 years,” Brenda said. “This award is extremely important because it brings recognition to the hard work and challenges me, and other women have had to overcome to advance our careers.”
Matt Paul, president and COO of DTE Gas, applauds the effort, commitment and determination it takes to become a Trailblazer.
“I’m very proud of these three women for their leadership in operational roles at our company and for their contributions to our success,” Matt said. “As we’re building a more diverse and inclusive organization in Gas and other areas of our business, we’re becoming an even stronger company.”
Want to learn more about how DTE is working to create a more diverse and inclusive workplace? Read more about our efforts here.